Hart Beat

Finding the perfect idiot's guide to pet tricks

From time to time the news department receives news releases for which there we have no real use except to round can the material. But, sometimes the material may be interesting to our readers.

For example, Tuesday I received a press release, actually it was a media newsletter, from the Complete Idiot's Guides public relations firm of River Forest, Illinois. Let me just tell you the newsletter was filled with interesting titles for a variety of Complete Idiot's Guides covering everything from tips for using the glycemic index for weight loss to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Discovering Your Perfect Career. But my favorite guide, one I think I may even purchase, is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dog Tricks.

According to the book's brief description, this handy, little guide will help me teach my poor dog how to sit and shake. The hype aside, the title sounds like the David Letterman Show's stupid pet tricks segment.

I've watched some of those segments and always end up feeling sorry for the pets with the stupid owners. It always seems to me that there are an awful lot of stupid people making their dogs do unbelievable things for the camera.

I have a dog, a nice little Sheltie named Mister, whose only trick is to wake me up to let him outside each morning. Well, maybe that is not so much a trick as it is a matter of necessity. Anyway, of all the guides listed in the current media kit, the one on dog tricks looks most interesting. It promises me I can learn to teach my dog such fantastic things as dancing.

Excuse me. I think Mister has that dance thing covered already. Mister regularly performs the "it's morning let me out" dance. Come to think of it, Mister also has a "I'm happy to see you're home" dance, and I especially love his "are ya going to feed my now" dance. Mister is a good dancer already.

So what else can the Complete Idiot's Guide to Dog Tricks offer me? Well, it claims it can instruct me how to teach my dog to roll over and play dead. For $14.95, this skinny, little book promises to help me teach Mister to play dead. Heck, Mister has that one nailed already. In fact, whenever I want to leave the house and put him outside while I'm gone, he plays dead really well. But, perhaps fetching would be a nice trick if Mister could be taught to bring me a cold can of soda from the refrigerator.

I get releases from these Idiot's Guide folks periodically. Usually, however, it's to announce the pending publication of the latest Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine Tasting. Living in wine country I'd be too embarrassed to have a copy of that on my coffee table.

But a copy of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian Phrases and the Pocket Idiot's Guide to Photography might be useful. Say, maybe I could give Mister the Italian phrases book to learn how to bark in Italian while becoming an independent filmmaker after boning up on the Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent FIlmmaking?

Now that would be a neat trick. Wonder if Letterman has an opening for smart pet tricks.


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